Compassionate Allowances: Fast-Track Help to Those Who Need It Most

November 6, 2017 • By

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Last Updated: November 6, 2017

two metal snakes We are committed to processing disability claims as quickly as possible in all cases, but our initial claims process typically takes three to four months. If you suffer from a serious medical condition that prevents you from working, time is of the essence when it comes to receiving a decision on your disability application.

In some cases, we’re able to expedite the application process through our Compassionate Allowances program. Social Security uses Compassionate Allowances to identify people whose medical condition is so severe that they obviously meet our disability standards. Under the Social Security Act, we consider you disabled if you can’t work due to a severe medical condition that is expected to last at least one year, or result in death.

Many of the claims in our Compassionate Allowances Program are approved based on medical confirmation of the diagnosis alone; for example, pancreatic cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and acute leukemia. Acting Commissioner Nancy A. Berryhill said it best: “Social Security is committed — now and in the future – to continue to identify and fast-track diseases that are certain or near-certain to be approved for disability benefits.”

Today, almost 500,000 people with severe disabilities have been approved through this fast-track disability process, which has grown to include a total of 228 conditions. Recently, three new Compassionate Allowances conditions were added to the list: CACH — Vanishing White Matter Disease-Infantile and Childhood Onset Forms, Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy, and Kleefstra Syndrome.

Our Compassionate Allowances program speeds help to people with severe conditions. If you or someone you know has a severe disabling condition, don’t wait. Go to our Compassionate Allowances website for more information about the program, including a list of all the conditions.

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Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Christine M.

    Dear Deputy Commissioner Borland,
    Thank you for posting about this topic. I have multiple questions that never get answered involving the “CAL”. I have attempted to get “Dercums Disease” (ADIPOSIS DOLOROSA) – an “ultra-rare”, extremely painful, progressive, and degenerative “orphan disease” – on the CAL registry. There never seems to be any more public meetings, or, enough advanced notice to those of us interested in commenting on policy. Has there been any discussion about creating a secondary “RARE DISEASE COMPASSIONATE ALLOWANCES LIST” for the more destructive and rare conditions, disorders, syndromes and diseases??
    In a state like Pennsylvania if you apply for SSD/SSDI/SSI and are denied, you have to wait and continue to be out of work for a MINIMUM of one year+ before you can even get on the waiting list to see a judge for a hearing. That’s in addition to the 3-6 months it takes to process your initial claim. There are many other medical and financial concerns that are just not accounted for when dealing with rare diseases and while cases are currently determined on “a case by case” basis, this process is not only outdated and destructive, it ends up costing all parties a great deal more money than is intended.
    I have not met anyone who is happy to be in the position of losing their mobility. They work untill it’s physically impossible and then seem to get penalized for giving it their all in a desperate attempt to defy becoming a statistic. What is being done to upgrade the current process for incurable rare diseases that are not on the CAL purely due to the fact that they are so rare that the system (offices and judges) has little and outdated, inaccurate information about them? With more than 7000 rare dieases, how can we educate and legislate the system in order to save taxpayers money while at the same time helping those who really do need it most?
    Thank you for your time and response.

  2. terri

    ii am currently was on disability with a compassionate allowance diagnosis, and at my appeal hearing (because my review was extended 3 years then denied) i told them i have nonhodgkins lymphoma cancer, and i was kicked off disability, for not having a disabling disability…and mine its metasized to the bone, another compassionate allowance diagnosis (bone cancer) but im now homeless, and no money one month to christmas, with cancer, rediagnosed… thanks

  3. Tow

  4. George C.

    My wife requested disability information about filing. She was told that there was so much paper work involved that it was usually a waste of time. So, she never bothered to file. She is disabled due to heart problems as well as neuropathy. She is 82 years old now so I would assume that she is beyond the feasibility of submitting a claim. My main question is, when does social security disability stop? Does it stop when a person applies for Medicare? If so, are there other benefits for disabled personnel in this situation?

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question, Mr. Atkinson. Social Security disability benefits automatically change to retirement benefits when disability beneficiaries attain their full retirement age. If a person has reached his or her full retirement age and is receiving Social Security retirement, they will not be eligible for disability benefits. Some individuals may also be eligible to receive social services from the state in which they live. These services include Medicaid, free meals, housekeeping help, transportation or help with other problems. You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services office. Or you can visit the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) web page for more information. We hope this helps!

  5. Mr.Egodage A.

    social security administration Dated 11/06/2017
    Subject > Compassionate Allowances to date i work for truth for law ”
    2012/2017 to date “sri lanka police hide now i am
    stand up with law/unhcr/fbi/interpol /slnpc/law and order
    to pay my all up date “legal civil rights ”
    so all of you can understand what type of administration work around the world ”
    who work with us too that there was beautiful face but beauty is not “right ;law ”
    right law is “where ever you work ,that the county
    social scurrility civil rights 5% daily need to update
    under the (example “name “Mr.x” of civil society name is legally allowed to have to his/her civil rights ”
    that proper duties well done by FBI/CIA ‘at USA
    World bank +unhcr/world bank civil society rights am in
    my all funds invested by unhcr “accountability is
    fully responsibility .”am happy too”
    Sri lanka police+NPC+Law and order has to pay
    for my rights no excuses for me as 55 age passed.
    THIS IS YOU CALL “Social security administration ”
    my all hearty deep congrats! to social security government ‘
    well being a member
    I am yours sincerely
    Millennial hospitality leader
    Mr.Egodage D.R Abayasekara/world wide
    cc “UNHCR/ICJ.

  6. Ann S.

    Please send info on how I can reply

    Thank you

  7. D.H. F.

    Thanks. In my case (some years ago), this took a little over a year, including time for the appeals process. At that time, initial applications were routinely rejected, making it necessary to go through the appeals process. As of early 2016, I read that the entire process, from date of application to (if accepted) receipt of a disability check, had reached up to three years.

  8. Hospitals &.

    The two peoples I am considering compassionate allowances for are orphans and pyromaniacs.

    1. SSI, for an estimated 100,000 orphans growing up in federally unfunded orphanages in the United States. Up to 1/3 for the orphanage and 2/3 for candy, car and college fund. Disability, SSI or DI, for 400,000 working age adult orphans, who lost both their parents before they turned 18. Just use the high-cost scenario for disability spending like SSA has to do anyway to afford everyone’s 3% COLA.

    2. How much wood, could a wood chuck, chuck, if a wood chuck, could chuck wood? Please chuck in the national forests to the national park services director under 54USC100101. Fire the arsons!!! An estimated 33,000 USDA Forest Service employees and related arson contractors are not eligible or reassignment because they are pyromaniacs, and may or may not be entitled to federal disability-retirement http://www.title24uscode.org/fire.pdf

    To end poverty by 2020

    A BILL

    (a) To amend the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour 2009-2017 to ‘$7.50 in 2018 and 3% more every year thereafter.’ under 29USC§206(a)(1)(D).

    (b) To provide 14 weeks of (unemployment compensation) paid Maternity Protection under ILO Convention 183 (2000).

    (c) To amend the 1.8% DI tax rate starting January 1, 2019 in Sec. 201(b)(1)(T) of the Social Security Act under 42USC§401(b)(1)(T) to either (c-1) 2.1% DI tax, or (c-2) 2.0% DI tax if OASI pays $240 billion including 2.5% interest in assets for CY09-CY15 to replicate to the extent possible revenue that would have been received if the OASDI tax had been properly adjusted by Public Law 112-96.

    (d) To replace the Adjustment of the contribution and benefit base under Section 230 of the Social Security Act 42USC§430 with ‘There is created in the Treasury a Supplemental Security Income Trust Fund.’

    (d-1) To tax the rich the full 12.4% Old Age Survivor and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Federal Income Contribution Act (FICA) on all their income to pay 16-24 million children growing up poor SSI benefits CY18 and end poverty by 2020.

    (e) To end benefit attrition with a 3% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) rule every year inflation continues to run about 2.7% and the Trust Fund Ratio is greater than 20% under Sec. 215(i) of the Social Security Act 42USC§415(i). To make an exception to the rule to pay $777 mo. SSI a 5.7% COLA is needed from CY17, a 2.7% COLA CY18 followed by 3% COLA to $777 SSI CY19 and 3% COLA every year thereafter.

    Be it enacted in the House and Senate Assembled

  9. E S.

    So many people receiving disability benefits that are able to work. Brag about not working and working for cash money on the side. Who investigates these abusers?

    • AKA

      Many agencies and SSA investigates what is reported to them.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for contacting us. Social Security takes allegations of fraud very seriously. If you suspect or know of someone committing fraud against Social Security, report it. Reporting is easy, safe and secure.

    • May

      Who is to say who is able to work? Do you know each and everything these disabled people live with everyday? No, I thought so. Don’t pass judgement on something you know nothing about. We have no idea what people live with everyday and if they are able to make a substantial living. Your not God.

  10. tammy

    I will apply for this but I am sure (like you have done in the past) will deny me benefits. I really have a hard time believing anything with the words “social security” and “compassion” used in the same sentence. I find it more of a reality that you will use special “rules” to justify your denial yet again.

    Your program states “Under the Social Security Act, we consider you disabled if you can’t work due to a severe medical condition that is expected to last at least one year, or result in death”. I have both and have applied before.

    I am 46 years old, have been disabled since birth, I have cerebral palsy, I have been unable to find any gainful employment for most of my entire life, no one will hire me because I am physically disabled, you do not get any points with SS if you do not work. I have applied with SS before and been turned down. I have never received ONE RED CENT of money from social security, ever! Sorry to be so exact, but that has been my real world experience dealing with the social security administration.

    • AKA

      If you have NEVER been gainfully employed you should have applied as a disabled child under a parents record. You do not meet BOTH conditions, if you’ve been severely disabled since birth by a condition that would result in death, you’re still alive.

      • Christine M.

        Are you sggesting that a person can’t meet both requirements of having a condition/combined conditions that is so severe it not only prevents them from working and is expected to last at least a year but will also result in death?? There are many horrific diseases that people develop that do just that! Once you get one disorder or disease your genetic mutations have free reign, and you start obtaining a whole host of other conditions that compound and complicate the initial disease. Please do not ASSUME a person doesn’t meet both criteria simply because you are not knowledgeable in all things related to a specific set or group of diseases. Some conditions result in long painful suffering and Death is simply a matter of time, especially if there is no cure or approved treatments available. Perhaps the SSA should change the wording if they want to clarify a specific time frame. However your dismissal of Tammy’s post not appreciated.

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